Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A hunter searching for deer on the shores on Iowa's Saylorville Lake made a surprising discovery: a message in a bottle from 1983.
Ross Bruns said he didn't see a single deer during his hunt along the lake, near Des Moines, but the message in a bottle made for perhaps an even more exciting trip.
"I told my wife it was my last hunt of the year," Bruns told KCAU-TV. "Came out here that day and didn't actually see a single deer, but it will probably be one of the most memorable hunts I have the rest of my life."
Bruns said he was surprised by the discovery.
"I actually took a picture and texted it to my friends who had been hunting in this spot and they couldn't believe as many times as they had been up and down that trail that they never saw that bottle," Bruns said.
The message inside the bottle was authored in 1983 by Jim Otto, a Spirit Lake, Iowa, man who died in 2012.
Janet Otto, Jim's wife, said her husband started throwing messages in bottles into the Missouri River in 1976.
"As we went back and forth to Nebraska, where I lived, we would cross the river in Sioux City and he thought, 'OK I'm going to start throwing bottles in,'" Janet Otto said.
She said her husband tossed hundreds of bottles into the river and other bodies of water over the years and kept track of the numbers and where they were launched. The bottle found by Bruns was bottle No. 32.
Otto's family said they have heard from about 65 people who found Jim's bottles in various locations. They said the discoveries help keep his memory alive.
"He would be excited and happy that so many people are still finding his bottles," Janet Otto said.
A Washington state girl recently learned that her message in a bottle took an even longer journey in a much shorter amount of time.
Niki Nie, of Battle Ground, said she tossed her bottle into the Pacific Ocean while crossing the equator with her family, and found out it had traveled 1,200 miles to Papua New Guinea.